5 Essential Qualities You Need to be a Success

Have you ever wondered what you need to be a success in running your own business? Is it an incredible idea that galvanizes a generation, like a wicked app that goes viral and has the world trying to knock a fat pig off a ledge, or maybe it’s a fantastic mentor, with loads of seed money, contacts and endless support?

Well, it’s none of those things. In fact, the magic ingredients you need for success are quite different and far closer to home and your heart, than you might think.

While writing my new book, I interviewed over 50 successful women who moved from their corporate careers into their own businesses and have discovered the 5 essential qualities they all share in order to be successful in their business ventures.

You have what it takes

You’ve got them, and if they seem a bit buried under the endless to-do list, the questioning of when you will make ‘real’ money, or the fear of closing that sale, trust me, they are in there. If you truly want your business to be a success, then running your own business will these tease dormant qualities out of you.

You will learn more about yourself and how you work managing a business than at any other time of your life. As you continue on your journey of building your business and even years into it, you will be surprised by your determination, tenacity and resilience.


A total and utter belief that what you are doing is worth it. A feeling of being so in love with your idea and the value it will bring to others that you can feel it. A strong reason ‘why’. Why you are doing this, why it exists and why it’s worth it.

You will be working in this business, like it or not, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether or not you are physically sitting down and working, your thoughts will be occupied with your business matters. It becomes all-consuming, so you better love what you do!

Imagine how it feels when you are around someone who has a high level of energy and is passionate about what they are discussing? It feels great. It’s infectious.

You want some of what they have. This is the passion I’m talking about – what you really care about, the thing that makes your heart sing.


The determination to make their business a success, to persevere when it seems that luck is against them, to do whatever it takes to build the business.

It’s not giving up at the first, third or even the tenth rejection but carrying on until you get what you want.

Knowing that a ‘yes’ is key to the success of your business and realisation of your passion.


This isn’t about being Pollyanna and seeing the world always through rose-tinted spectacles. The business owners I spoke to seemed to definitely have their glasses half full, or even close to overflowing!

Setbacks, rejection, slower than forecast sales dented them but not for long.

They went into their business expecting the best and even when the reality was different, they found new ways to trade their way through or market themselves in a whole new way.

Having a victim mentality will not support you or the growth of your business.

Completely owning that you make it happen will be an enabling mindset. It is worthwhile to remember that whilst you can’t control what happens to you, you can control how you react to it.

The successful business owners revisit their passion, add optimism and then think, “what if there was another way” and “how can we get past this?”

‘Customer Love’ is everything

We all know the business world is competitive. And that customer loyalty can shift as fast as the next banking scandal.

Critical to any successful business is customer love.

Forming great relationships with prospects and then forging stronger relationships, as they become customers.

Many of the business owners I spoke to emphasised the importance of developing deep and strong relationships with all customers.

They enjoyed long-term client relationships and also referrals over time. They took pride in their work and went the extra mile to ensure that customer was delighted and didn’t start to consider other competitors.

This is a key switch from corporate life.

Owning your own business means you are the front line of customer service.

Your income comes from your customers.

This sounds obvious but it can be overlooked after an extended period in the corporate world, where customer service defines customer experience and expectations.

Sharpening up and valuing the customer with great service and consistently exceeding expectations not only makes great business sense but importantly feeds you flames of passion even more!


Opportunities are everywhere but you have to be fearless to grab them! Starting and running your own business will push and pull at every part of your comfort zone.

You will have to put yourself out there in ways you haven’t imagined.

There is no company brand to lean on anymore, no sales department to bring in the business. It is now completely up to you.

The women I interviewed have let go of many things. They have let go of that fear of rejection, the fear of being seen as too direct, the fear of selling and asking for the order.

Once these fears have departed, they become tenacious, motivated and gain momentum.

How do you compare with the list above? Are these qualities you share? Chances are they are lying dormant within you desperate to escape!

Start to believe that you have what it takes, and ask yourself this question now…. “what is the one thing I can do today to start demonstrating one of these qualities more boldly?”

You only have one life, choose how you use it.

Wendy Kerr

Director for The Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Auckland University.The Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is the hub for the development and promotion of innovation, commercialisation and entrepreneurial activities within the University.We create experiential programmes, workshops and events to unleash the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, to transform the mindsets of our students and staff to support the growth of New Zealand as a prosperous and creative nation.

Be the change that you want to see. Step into your leadership.


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